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clearly determined by the Church of Rome and the holy Doctors. Lord Cobham replied, “I know none holier than Christ and his Apostles; and as for that determination, it is none of theirs ; for it standeth not with the Scriptures, but manifestly against them. If it be the Church's, it hath been hers only since she received the great poison of worldly possessions.” He had now become the assailant, and the proceedings resembled a dispute in the schools, rather than the forms of judicial inquiry. “In your lordly laws and idle determinations,” said he,“ have I no belief! For ye be no part of Christ's holy Church, as your open deeds do show: but ye are very Antichrists, openly set against his holy law and will. The laws that ye have made are nothing to his glory, but only for your vain-glory and abominable covetousness.”
Upon this the Prior of the Carmelites reproved him for judging his superiors. “Rash judgement,” said he, “and right judgement all is one with you. So swift judges always are the learned scholars of Wicliffe !” Lord Cobham replied, “It is well sophistered of you, forsooth! Preposterous are your judgements evermore. For, as the prophet Esay saith, ye judge evil good, and good evil; and therefore the same prophet concludeth that, your ways are not God's ways, nor God's ways your ways.' And as for that virtuous man Wicliffe, I shall say here, both before God and man, that before I knew that despised doctrine of his, I never abstained from sin. But since I learned therein to fear my Lord God, it hath otherwise, I trust, been with me. So much grace could I never find in all your glorious instructions !” To this the Carmelite answered, “ It were not well with me if I had no grace to amend my life, till I heard the Devil preach. St. Hierome saith, ' That he which seeketh such suspected masters, shall not find the mid-day light, but the mid-day Devil!”” “Your fathers, the old Pharisees,” returned Lord Cobham, “ascribed Christ's miracles to Beelzebub, and his doctrines to the Devil; and you, as their natural children, have still the selfsame judgement concerning his faithful followers. To judge you as you be, we need no farther
go than to your own proper acts. Where do ye find in all God's law, that ye should thus sit in judgement of any Christian man, or yet give sentence upon any other man to death, as ye do here daily? No ground have ye in all the Scriptures, so lordly to take it upon you, but in Annas
and Caiaphas, which sate thus upon Christ, and upon his Apostles after his ascension!”
A lawyer upon this observed to him, that Christ judged Judas. But Cobham, who was better versed in Scripture, replied, “ That Judas judged himself. Indeed,” he pursued,“ Christ said, ' woe unto him for that covetous act of his,' as he doth yet unto many of you; for since his venom was shed into the Church, ye never followed Christ.” Arundel demanded what he meant by that venom? “Your possessions and lordship,” replied Lord Cobham ; " for then cried an angel' in the air, as your own chronicles mention, 'Woe, woe, woe! this day is venom shed into the Church of God!' Since that time, one Pope hath put down another, one hath poisoned another, one hath cursed another, and one hath slain another, and done much more mischief, as all the chronicles tell. Let all men consider well this, that Christ was meek and merciful; the Pope is proud, and a tyrant: Christ was poor, and forgave; the Pope is rich, and a malicious manslayer, as his daily acts do prove him. Rome is the very nest of Antichrist, and out of that nest cometh all the disciples of him, of whom Prelates, Priests, and Monks are the body, and these piled Friars are the tail !” “Alas, Sir," said the Prior of the Augustines, “why do you say so? that is uncharitably spoken!” These are the only words of this Prior which are reported in the proceedings, and they imply no uncharitable temper in the speaker; one, perhaps, who would gladly have washed his hands of the innocent blood. But the martyr, who saw him only as he was, prepared to go through with the murderous business in which he was engaged, replied, “Not only is it my saying, but also the prophet Esay's, long before my time; “the prophet,' saith he, which preacheth lies, is the tail behind.””
Master as he was of the subject, strong in his cause, sure of the issue, and therefore fearless of it, and armed with Scripture, the Court felt his superiority; and one of the Canonists, that they might come without further delay to the condemnation, took from his bosom a copy of the writing which had been sent
1 of this voice from Heaven, Fuller says, “I dare boldly say, he that first wrote it, never heard it, being a modern author.” (Church History, p. 24.) And he ascribes the story to Johannes Nanclerus, president of the University of Tubingen, in the year 1500. Here, however, is proof that the fable was current a century earlier.
him, and interrogated him upon the four points ; to all of which he replied openly and resolutely. When he denied that worship was due to images, a Friar asked him, if he would worship the Cross upon which Christ died ? “Where is it?” said Lord Cobham. The Friar replied, I put the case that it were here even now before you?
.?” “ This is a great wise man,” said Lord Cobham,“ to put me an earnest question of a thing, yet he himself knoweth not where the thing is! I ask you, what worship I should do unto it?” An ignorant clerk answered, “ Such worship as Paul speaketh of, and that is this; • God forbid that I should joy, but only in the Cross of Christ Jesus.”” Lord Cobham spread forth his arms, and said, “This is a very cross; yea, and so much better than your cross of wood, in that it was created of God; yet will I not seek to have it worshipped !” (It was a favourite remark with the Reformers, when they argued against the use of the Crucifix, that there was no other true image of God, but man, who in that image had been created.) The Bishop of London upon this observed, “Sir, ye wote well that he died on a material cross !” “ Yea,” answered Lord Cobham, “ and I wote also, that our salvation came not in by that material cross, but by him which died thereupon!”
The Archbishop now thought proper to close an argument, in which the accused person had so palpably the advantage of his judges and accusers. “Sir John,” said he, " ye have spoken here many wonderful words to the slanderous rebuke of the whole spirituality, giving a great evil example unto the common sort. We must now be at this short point with you.
Ye must submit yourself, and have none other opinion in these matters, than the universal faith and belief of the Holy Church of Rome, or else throw yourself (no remedy !) into most deep danger. See to it in time, for anon it will be too late!” “ I will none otherwise believe in these points," was the resolute reply," than that I have told you hereafore; do with me what ye will!” “Well, , then,” said Arundel, “ I see none other, but we must needs do the law !"
He stood up, all the assembly vailing their bonnets, and began, “In the name of God!” “ Lord Cobham," he said, “ having been detected and presented at the lawful denouncement and request of our universal Clergy, we proceeded against him ac
cording to the law, (God to witness !) with all the favour possible. And following Christ's example in all we might, which willeth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he be converted and live, we sought all ways to bring him to the Church's unity. And though we found him in the Catholic faith far wide, and so stiffnecked that he would not confess his error, nor purge himself, nor yet repent him thereof, we yet pitying him of fatherly compassion, appointed him a competent time of deliberation, to see if he would seek to be reformed ; but seeing that he is not corrigible, we are driven to the very extremity of the law, and with great heaviness of heart we now proceed to the publication of the sentence definitive against him.”
This issue had been so clearly foreseen, that the Archbishop came with the sentence written. It began by taking Christ to witness, that His glory was the only thing sought in these whole proceedings; and saying, that the worthiness of the cause weighed first on one side, and the unworthiness of this child of iniquity and darkness on the other, his fault also being aggravated through his damnable obstinacy, it condemned Lord Cobham for a most pernicious and detestable heretic, and committed him as such to the secular power, to do him thereupon to death. Furthermore, the sentence excommunicated and denounced him accursed ; and not him alone, but all who should in any way receive, defend, counsel, help, or maintain him: and this sentence was to be published and explained from the pulpit, throughout all dioceses, in cities, towns, and villages, at such times as they should have most concourse of people; to the end that, upon the fear thereof, the people might fall from their evil opinions, conceived of late by seditious preaching.
When Arundel had finished this wicked and inhuman sentence, Lord Cobham said to him with a firm voice and courageous countenance, “ Though ye judge my body, which is but a wretched thing, yet am I certain and sure that ye can do no harm to my soul, no more than could Satan upon the soul of Job. He who created that, will of his infinite mercy and promise save it; I have therein no manner of doubt. And as concerning these articles before rehearsed, I will stand to them even to the very death, by the grace of my eternal God !” Turning to the spectators then, he spread his hands, and spake with a louder
voice, saying, “ Good Christian people, for God's love be well 'ware of these men ! for they will else beguile you, and lead you blindling into hell with themselves. For Christ saith plainly unto you, ' If one blind man leadeth another, they are like both to fall into the ditch !”” Then kneeling down before them, he prayed for his enemies, “Lord God Eternal! I beseech thee, of thy great mercy's sake, to forgive my pursuers, if it be thy blessed' will !”
Their victim was now remanded to the Tower, and the remainder of his history is perplexed by contradictory statements, from which nothing certain can be collected, except the results. It is said that a respite of fifty days was obtained for him, at Arundel's desire. An abjuration was put forth in his name, which he, by aid of his friends, contradicted; setting up bills in various parts of London, wherein he declared, that he never varied, in any point, from that confession which he had made before the Clergy, and which he had taken care to have published at the time. The Lollards were certainly numerous, and he had, as his character and talents deserved, many devoted friends, by whose help he escaped from the Tower. The ensuing transactions are inexplicably mysterious. The King was informed that the Lollards had formed a plot for murdering him and his brothers at Eltham. He removed immediately to Westminster, and was then told, that they were assembling from all quarters in the Ficket Field behind St. Giles's, to act at a certain hour under Lord Cobham, and burn the Abbey, St. Paul's, St. Alban's, and all the friaries in London. In the middle of the night, the King ordered his friends to arm, that he might anticipate these enemies. He was urged to wait till daylight, that he might see who were with him and who against him, and he was advised also to collect an army, if there was a formidable body to be opposed ; but with such men as at this immediate
From the account here faithfully given of this most interesting trial, it will appear evident, as Mr. Turner has well stated in his valuable History of England, (vol. i. 307,) that Lord Cobham's guarded confession might have satisfied his persecutors, if conciliation had been their object; but that they pursued him with questions, which left no choice between falsehood and condemnation. It is fit, however, that the reader should know in what manner the recent and able historian, Dr. Lingard, speaks of this trial; he says that Lord Cobham's conduct was “as arrogant and insulting as that of his judge was mild and dignified.” (Hist. of England, vol. iii. 335.) It is fitting, indeed, that we should know in what manner an English Ro. man Catholic historian speaks of such transactions, at this time.